• Unintentional Irony Watch

    From Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs, in response to Dean's condemnation of anti-semitic literature: But the problem is, the bigots are already inside, and they’ve taken over the DNC’s message, thanks in large part to the cheapening of political discourse spearheaded by none other than ... Dean himself, who says he “hates Republicans.” All you have to do is visit bile-spewing web sites like Democratic Underground and Daily Kos to see how much of their “base” is simply insane. Man, that guy's got self awareness like Charlie Brown's got field goals. Or maybe Johnson has a split personality writing all the vile, racist stuff but hiding it, Zaphod Beeblebrox-like, from the rest of him? Weird.
  • Misunderestimated on Every Channel

    Tiereny's column on TV's "doofus dad" is suprisingly perceptive today. Well worth a pre-father's day read. It is, after all, a pretty interesting TV phenomenon. If the majority of shows presented other demographics the way they present fathers, they wouldn't survive a day. Ignorant blacks? Bitchy, materialistic moms? Moronic, accident-prone dads? The whole set fits, but only the last is widely allowable. Odd. Maybe white males, as the dominant majority, are secure enough in their power and public image not to mind? Maybe they're the last demographic group safe to infantilize because, as of yet, they haven't protested their portrayals? And is it white males, or do the black-acted sitcoms work off the same format? Ah, the mysteries of pop cultures. Tierney's answer, which makes sense, is that 3/4ths of sitcom viewers are female, and this is what they like. Maybe. Or maybe it's just that the stereotype works for everyone. Aggrieved women get to laugh at a father worse than their husband...
  • Torturing Straw Men

    So I'm back for another episode as Ezra's recurring werewolf guest. Thanks, Ezra! The first thing I want to do is point out the way that people on the right are confusing the torture debate. They pick up on random things happening at Guantanamo that aren't instances of torture by themselves, and claim that no torture is going on because, hey, feeding people chicken isn't torture! John Kass , the problem isn't that we sometimes played Christina Aguilera in prisoners' cells instead of, say, Sleater-Kinney. Darleen, the problem isn't that we exposed the prisoners to heat over 100 degrees. Captain Ed , you aren't even responding to anybody when you say: If that means they get cold, or hot, or have little accidents on the floor, then so be it. That isn't torture or even abuse. This FBI agent , however, was witnessing torture: On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most...
  • Moving Day

    Light posting today as I change residences. Things'll perk back up over the weekend, as Neil Sinhababu (The Ethical Werewolf) and I will tag-team the site. And next week...hoo-boy you lucky blog readers, big doings next week.
  • Looking Back to Lenin

    Now for the promised "more". Matt replied to Jon Cohn, saying much of what I said below (single payer not going to happen all at once, do it sneakily, etc). But he also made a point that bears some examination: I agree with various folks around here and around the web who don't think arguing about the details of a reform plan is the most productive thing in the world. The class of things that count as "better than what we've got" is very big, and everyone in the history of American health care who's ever rejected an improvement on the theory that something even better is right around the corner has been proving wrong. I'll take what I can get, and I hope everyone who's thinking seriously about this issue feels the same way. My main concern is that people not reject single-payer in favor of a "more feasible" compromise plan in advance . Now this is, on one level, very true. The problem is, on another level, it's not very true at all. Matt and others have eloquently argued for the need...
  • Sneaky Single-Payer

    Jon Cohn's post telling single-payer advocates to take transition seriously -- i.e, don't underestimate the level of disruption it'd entail for our economy to break down the old system and create a new one while still providing health care -- is a good one, and folks should give it some thought. But how good? I mean, it's smart to think hard about how a transition would work, but if we're putting aside the political to look at the policy, as Jon says, then I've got to push this one back. After all -- we're considering a top-to-bottom reorganization of health care, a little disruption for a sounder long-term system strikes me as a much smarter way to go than a less sustainable system that entails less disruption. Further, I'm not sure how bad the disruption would need to be. After all, we're starting single-payer -- it's not as if the doctors won't know who to bill. But policy fantasies aside, single-payer is not going to spring full born from Ted Kennedy's head and find itself...
  • If GM Goes

    Rare as it may be, Tom Friedman's got it right today. If GM does go down the toilet, and if Toyota does step forward with the plunger, it'd be a good thing for us all. Pushing Toyota's hybrid technology into all manner of GM vehicles, arming all the GM brands with fuel-efficient engines, the end result would be wonderful for our dependence of oil. On the other hand, it'd be reallty bad for universal health care as GM is the most powerful and important company begging for relief, and if they leave the scene, so will a lot of the business support. So in that way, GM sets liberal priorities at war. But as Kevin notes, guaranteeing business support is pretty tricky, so we'd probably be better off not worrying about it.
  • Cut and Run

    I'm enormously disturbed to hear that the GOP is looking for an exit strategy on Social Security. This sort of abandonment of Social Security could let it fall to AARP. Indeed, a reverse domino effect could take place, as liberal pressure groups sense weakness, judge the administration a paper tiger unwilling to take electoral casualties, and begin pushing for a massive expansion of the welfare state. First Social Security, tomorrow the minimum wage, Monday universal day care, and next month, single-payer. The thought makes me shudder. Moreover, this essential willingness to abandon our nation's pension programs to those who seek to perpetuate our way of life proves the essential lack of seriousness conservatives bring to domestic policy. All of us who understand that Social Security is, as President Bush said, the foremost threat to our national economy realize that his absence of leadership on the issue betrays a willingness to abandon the country's best interest in pursuit of...
  • I Am Done With Finals

    And that's a fact. Ask me about Rawls! Go on, ask me!* * Questions will not be answered.
  • The Reality-Based War on Terror

    This post of Kathryn-Jean Lopez's has been nagging at me for the last few days. It's a response to a New York Times op-ed by Peter Bergen, which argues, in short, that the widespread worry over madrassas is really misplaced -- those who've attacked us haven't been poorly educated automatons with no skills save massive Qur'anic recall, rather, we've been hit by a succession of college graduates, of engineers, of highly educated Arab men with job prospects and the background to "know better". Thus, concludes Bergen, this isn't a question of funding literacy, it's a question of stopping those with the desire and, crucially, the ability to do us harm. Lopez dismisses this with 20 catty words of snark. Why? Why is she fixated on the hate that madrassas may or may not breed? She's certainly not concerned with the resentment the French might harbor towards us. No, it's just Arab anger that bugs her. This seems to represent a fundamental break in how liberals and conservatives view terrorism...